The loss of the General Election, the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, and the defeat of the left in the NEC elections, together constitute a major setback. But we are not defeated. We are also working in the unprecedented landscape caused by Covid-19 and the government response to this health emergency.
So we urge all socialists to stay in the party, contribute to the efforts to re-unite the left, and be part of a renewed focus for mobilising to demand the society we need for the many.
One great achievement of the Corbyn period was to bring the left together into a force able to influence the terms of debate, to mobilise for and win a left orientated NEC and get radical motions passed at conference. Before Jeremy’s election we worked as many separate groups, but under his leadership we showed that together, we could wield real influence.
Remember how much we’ve achieved in the past 5 years. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic Labour had forced the Conservatives to make reverses on austerity – including the promise of new investment in infrastructure and public services. The £10 an hour Living Wage campaign was and still is a great example of successful campaigning that became Labour Party policy and pushed the Tories into moving on this issue.
We reaffirm our commitment to the Labour Party which remains, through its historic connection with the trade union and labour movement, the most important expression of the organised working class and a voice for the many.
Our tasks are twofold:
- First is to help build a strong opposition to the right-wing Tory government. Sadly, we cannot always rely on support from within the Labour Party for our socialist policies, industrial action and active campaigning.
- Our second task, therefore, is to help strengthen and reconnect the Labour left. There is a major task of reconstruction to be taken up urgently.
United we are rock – divided we are sand
Many existing left groups and trade unions, as well as emerging new grassroots organisations, have complementary strengths and a shared purpose, so we are calling for a national network of the grassroots Labour left. The signatories to this initial statement of intent will be part of the answer but we do not presume to offer a complete solution. This is just the start – one piece of a much bigger jigsaw. Any genuine coalition of the left should include both traditional established organisations and emerging new groupings.
Developing such a movement is the first stage in a process of getting people to think about what kind of society they want to live in. This has to be a grassroots activity bringing together individuals and groups, both within and outside the party together with trade unions, councillors, MPs and others in influential positions who actively support a transformative agenda – and demonstrating the importance of going back to our roots through workplace and community organising. We also need to promote understanding of the socialist potential a post-Covid-19 political landscape will offer.
A new and different landscape
The Covid-19 crisis, along with its tragic consequences, has made campaigners think about new ways of organising and mobilising. It has already highlighted the importance of public services and exposed the damage that decades of austerity have done to workers’ conditions while destroying any opportunities for our youth to thrive.
Across all regions and nations of the United Kingdom, party members are joining mutual aid groups. This kind of co-operative activity could sow the seeds of radical change, moving away from the cruelty of Tory individualism and its market-led ideology. The crisis around the pandemic has also seen a growth in workplace militancy, in particular resistance to working in unsafe conditions.
And in the unprecedented environment of lock-down we are finding different ways to communicate, organise and express solidarity – through social media, chat groups, virtual meetings and events. These are particularly important while most party structures are all but shut down. We need to demand they are opened up virtually to ensure that all members have a voice in party business.
Our principles and commitment to concrete action
Socialists in the party need to work together, in coalition, now more than ever. Alongside others in the Labour Party, we will help rebuild the left around a new, national network, which will be a place to organise, educate and debate in order to deliver the socialist society we all need.
We commit to democratic and transparent organisation; working to democratise the Labour Party and the trade unions; defending party members against unjust disciplinary processes and supporting the self-organisation of groups contesting particular oppressions.
Some of the key policies that we will be supporting and campaigning for are:
- A commitment to repealing all anti-trade union legislation;
- Struggles against employer attacks and oppression of workers; struggles for unionising unorganised workforces;
- Combating damaging climate change nationally and internationally;
- Public ownership of, and investment in, our public services, in particular our NHS and social care;
- Opposing all forms of racism including antisemitism, and all other forms of discrimination;
- Rolling back the growth of the far right;
- An internationalist policy stance based on justice and peace which by definition includes support for the Palestinians.
Labour belongs to us. Let’s unite to form an opposition and movement we can be proud of, to build the society we believe in.
How to get involved – we want to hear from you
We are already talking to groups we expect to be among the first participants in this network. If you are in a left Labour/Momentum/constituency group, trade union branch, self-organising group representing liberation strands or broad left Labour organisation which you believe would be interested in joining this network we want to hear from you. We will use contact details, with permission, to put people in touch with each other and start to develop the networking potential of the Labour left. We also want to involve community cultural and arts groups to support diversity of political education.
There are many vibrant campaigns going on at grassroots level. Here are a couple of examples supporting people working in low paid jobs and the gig economy that stand out in their organisation and ambition. Please contact them direct for further information and to sign up. We’re proud to support:
We look forward to connecting activists involved in many such campaigns, covering issues including our NHS, housing, education and many more through our network as it develops.
We are also building an internet hub of resources and materials for education, communication and organisation – open to everyone in the network. Get in touch if you want to contribute ideas, skills and local campaign details.
We aim to hold a major gathering, virtual if necessary, to connect all groups working towards our shared goals. Please contact us if you would like to be part of an organising group to make it happen.
Our founding organisations plus supporters
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Labour Beyond Cities
Labour International Left Alliance (LILA)
Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors
RMT London Transport Regional Council Black Solidarity Committee (BSC).
Jo Bird – Secretary of Wirral Labour Group and ex-NEC candidate
Emma Dent Coad – MP for Kensington 2017 – 2019
Ronnie Draper, Retired General Secretary Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
Jamie Driscoll – North of Tyne Mayor
Ian Hodson – President Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
Tosh Macdonald – Retired President, ASLEF
John McDonnell – MP for Hayes and Harlington
Laura Pidcock – MP for North West Durham 2017 – 2019
Andrew Scattergood – West Midlands Regional Secretary, Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Ben Selby – Fire Brigades Union (FBU) NEC member
Sarah Woolley – General Secretary Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
Matt Wrack – General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Steve Wright – Acting Secretary, Oxfordshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Former Parliamentary Candidates
Nabila Ahmed – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hemel Hempstead 2019
Jane Aitchison – President Leeds TUC and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Pudsey 2019
Teresa Beddis – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Meriden
Samantha Charles – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for West Worcestershire in 2017 and 2019
Bonnie Craven – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam in 2017 and 2019
Corrie Drew – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bournemouth East 2019
Hugo Fearnley – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Scarborough and Whitby 2019
Deanne Ferguson – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Morley and Outwood 2019
Pamela Fitzpatrick – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East 2019
Jennifer Forbes – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Falmouth & Truro 2019
Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet 2019
Susan Gregory – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Reigate 2019
Coral Jones – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for North Thanet 2019
Kate Linnegar – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for North Swindon 2019
Laura McAlpine – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Harlow and the Villages 2019
Tina McKay – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Colchester 2019
Keir Morrison – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bassetlaw 2019
Rosie Newbigging – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield 2019
Lavinia O’Connor – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham 2019
Joanne Oldale – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole 2019
Jackie Schneider – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon 2019
Samuel Sweek – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Huntingdon 2019
Trish Williams – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed 2019
Sophie Wilson – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Rother Valley 2019